In the Whispers and Warnings section of this week's issue, there's a complaint about Cantara Christopher and cantarabooks.com. Apparently a writer submitted a poem to them, and when they offered to publish it without remuneration, said he'd have to think about it. They then withdrew his work from consideration, and sent him a rather rude email containing this statement:
No self-respecting writer who is serious about a career at your stage would consider payment to be more important than inclusion in a prestige publication like ours.
The letter goes on to talk about how widely read and respected their two-year-old publication is, but it's this sentence that stopped me up short. I mean, really — what they're implying here is that to expect compensation is disrespectful to yourself. What??
Where I come from, it's the opposite — giving your work away is disrespectful to yourself, no matter what stage of your career you are in. How do you expect to have a career at all, if right off the bat you establish a reputation for undervaluing your own work?
The funny thing is, I've never even heard of this publisher, so all their high-and-mighty talk is laughable — not to mention sounds just like every publisher who offers "exposure" in lieu of compensation. If they were so great, don't you think could afford to pay writers?
Newbie writers, pay attention: Never write for publishers who don't pay, but promise great things from the "exposure" you'll get with them. It's nothing but a fairy tale concocted by greedy publishers!
Are they kidding? It's shameful to EXPECT payment? LOL! There's a new twist!
New? Unfortunately, I don't think that's quite true. I've also been told before that writers have no right to expect payment, or at least not a living wage, when we ought to be in it for fame and glory. One guy actually said that if I really loved what I do, I wouldn't try to get paid for it. I don't work with anyone who holds that attitude, of course, but it's not as uncommon as we might like. The "starving artist" stereotype is still considered very romantic, and many clients don't hesitate to take advantage of that.
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